Ecommerce
Mark Sansum

Digital Marketing Executive, experienced in: SEO, PPC & Content Marketing.

Link building for ecommerce is typically seen as one of the biggest SEO challenges facing businesses who transact online. You can optimise your content, create a crawlable site structure, have a hold on all technical issues and submit more citations than you can count - but you'll still make little progress, if you don't have those valuable backlinks.

Adopting a creative link building strategy has been proven to improve rankings; this post contains suggestions and examples for ecommerce link building. These range from high involvement tasks, such as digital PR and content creation, to the quick fixes, such as competitive backlink analysis and requesting supplier links.

Creating Original Content for Your Target Audience

Creating well researched original content is a great strategy for gaining strong natural backlinks and improving your ecommerce site link profile.

Take your entire inventory of products and start building a profile of your best sellers, the items that generate the most interest online. Now you have your hit list, you need to research the needs and challenges of your target audience –  Moz Keyword Explorer is great for doing this (use the Keyword Suggestion tool and filter by questions). Once you have this information, you now need to decide what type of content you are going to create – there are a tonne of options out there, here some great examples:

  • Top Product Lists.
    Bodybuilding.com create Top 10 lists for specific products:

top-10-protein-powders-hallam

tm-lewin-suit-guide-hallam

  • ‘How it’s Made’ Posts
    kwik-fit.com has posts dedicated to how certain products are made:

kwik-fit-how-tyres-are-made-hallam

  • carphone-warehouse-evolution-of-iphone-hallam
  • Product Reviews and Buying Advice.
    pcworld.com provide reviews and advice on a large range of electronic goods;

pc-world-laptop-review-hallam

Creating rich content for your target audience will naturally invoke sharing and over time build useful links to your website. Always research what you are going to write content about, these 3 tips from the Content Marketing Institute are a good place to start.

Creating a Deal Specific Landing Page

This method for link building is often overlooked but can be very powerful in generating high quality links. Within your ecommerce site, do you have a dedicated page for deals/sales/promotions? What could be better at gaining links than having a single landing page that contains fresh content and combines all of your sale items in one place. jdsports.com has a great example of this:

jd-sports-sale-page-hallam

People love to keep up to date with sales/promotions/savings and what better way to deliver this than via a unique landing page, a page like this provokes sharing and can gain natural backlinks over time. Also, on a side note – these are great landing pages for outreach, paid search and much more – it’s a win/win situation.

Running Contests, Competitions and Giveaways

There are only a handful of link building tactics that can guarantee success, however when done correctly, product giveaways and competitions can really achieve results.

The most basic competition requires users to head to a unique landing page, fill out their information, answer a simple question and then a winner is picked at random. This is great to start with, however, to take this to the next level, try partnering up with your suppliers, offering ‘money can’t buy prizes’ (Meet and greets etc) in return for publicity and sharing of links. This also works the other way, if you keep an eye out for promotions related to the industry you operate in, you will be able to reach out, send out a product/s and potentially gain a nice link and some low cost publicity.

Once you have a competition in place, use all the tools you have available to get things moving:

  • Take it to the press – local media outlets are great as they are typically easier to talk to and more willing to link to your website
  • Get social – in addition to sharing on your social pages why not sponsor a post? You’d be surprised how many people respond to seeing ‘FREE STUFF’ and are willing to share
  • Get listed – send your competition to the likes of theprizefinder.com or ukcompetitions.com this will not only gain you some great links but also help get your competition moving

A great example can be found on waitrose.com:

waitrose-competition-hallam

Taking Advantage of Your Suppliers, Distributors and Manufacturers

Create a list of all of your suppliers, distributors and manufacturers, now head to their website and see if they have a ‘Retailers’, ‘Distributors’ or ‘Buy From’ section. You will be surprised how many of these exist and even more surprised how easy it is to send a quick message to your account manager and get a link to to your website for free.

A good example can be seen on parker.com:

parker-hannifin-where-to-buy-hallam

If one of your suppliers does not have a page like this, treat this as an opportunity to reach out and suggest other ways for them to link to you; social media, blog posts and case studies are all great ways of gaining great relevant links.

Monitoring All Mentions – Brands and Target Keywords

Are you tracking every time your brand and/or target keywords are mentioned online? If you are, that’s great; if not, the simplest place to start is with Google Alerts – easy to set up, this can deliver you a daily/weekly/monthly alert every time your target search term is mentioned on the Google network, plus you can have up to 1000 alerts per email address. Setting up Google Alerts is super easy, simply head to this link, sign in with your gmail and you are good to go.

Once you have created alerts for all of your target keywords, brands and services – chose the type of alerts you want Google to find: News, Blogs and Video for example, now simply decide how often you want notifying and you are all set.

So, now you’re thinking ‘that’s all good but how does a brand mention tie into link building’? 

Imagine you get an alert that your brand name has been mentioned in a local newspaper, fantastic, right? Until you realise that they haven’t linked to your website, or the product that’s been covered. Now is the time to reach out, contact the journalist who has written the article telling them how much you love the piece and while you’re at it – get them to link across to your site. This link will provide great local traffic and a nice backlink from a local site with a (typically) high domain authority. The same strategy applies to blogs, videos, product lists and much more – by monitoring your mentions you have the chance to gain relevant backlinks, which will help raise your link profile and you’ll make valuable connections along the way.

Using Digital PR to Build High Quality Links

Digital PR and link building overlap perfectly, almost all media outlets – whatever the size, are publishing fresh content online on a regular basis. Reaching out to the media with your products at the right time and to the right audience will place your product and brand in front of a targeted audience, and most important of all – gain a super relevant back link.

Sounds easy right? Well, approaching Digital PR still means dealing with the media – you will need a clear strategy to kick things off and be prepared to put in the work. Ultimately, Digital PR is worth the effort and can pay off massively. Here are three great examples of digital PR:

  • endclothing.co.uk had a pair of their sunglasses reviewed in the telegraph (DA – 96)

telegraph-15-best-sunglasses-hallam

  • electric-bike-store.co.uk had their folding electric bike featured in a list of top 10 electric bikes in the independent (DA – 94).

independent-10-electric-bikes-hallam

house-to-home-hanging-baskets-hallam

 

Blogger outreach is also a great strategy, contacting relevant blogs that cover topics directly related to your business can be hugely beneficial in gaining contextually relevant links. Subscribe and reach out to as many relevant blogs as you can, learn when posts are coming up, connect with them socially, learn all the in’s and out’s of their work and then prepare a killer pitch to hit them with at the right time. Building links from bloggers (as with Digital PR) is a long term strategy, once you have persevered, make sure you continue to keep close contact with the blogger for future posts – never wait for a link and then assume your work is done.

Researching The Competition

If your competition is acquiring backlinks for products similar to yours, you stand a good chance of being able to capitalise on these links as well. By sifting through the good, the bad and the ugly of your competitors links you will be able to find some easy wins.

Tools such as Moz Open Site Explorer and Ahrefs are great at providing detailed reports on competitor URLs of your choice, providing metrics such as:

  • Domain Authority (DA)
  • Page Authority (PA)
  • Number of Links
  • Number of Deep Links
  • Number of Linking Root Domains

Competitive backlink analysis is an effective strategy to gauge how good the competition is at building links, allowing you to capitalise on missed opportunities and build your link profile in a simple and effective way.

Be Prepared to Put in The Work, It Will Be Worth It

Link building for ecommerce is not a quick fix, there are a number of small wins – however, as a whole it will take time, effort and very thick skin. See what works best for your business, the examples in this post range from sportswear to hydraulic components – whatever industry you operate in, there will be resources available to help you build relevant links to your ecommerce website. Never give up and more importantly, never think your work is done even after you get that backlink from a 90+ DA – that’s just the start.

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